Dog looking into camera.

Diabetes in dogs is an incurable but manageable disease that needs to be closely monitored and treated to give your canine friend as many healthy, happy years as possible. This guide can help you recognize and treat diabetes in dogs.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a disorder that affects the amount of glucose, or sugar, in your dog’s blood. Diabetes occurs when your dog’s body produces too little insulin, stops generating it, or reacts abnormally to insulin.

Diabetes in dogs typically develops as they age, but the condition can occur anytime during their lifespan. It’s more common in large-breed dogs, but small dogs can also develop the condition. Some breeds are more susceptible to diabetes than others.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

If you’re wondering if your dog may have diabetes, there are signs to watch for. Symptoms of high blood sugar in dogs include drinking more water than usual and urinating more frequently. Other signs include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Breath that smells “sweet”
  • Frequent infections, such as skin infections, ear infections, or urinary tract infections 

Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital performs diagnostic tests for canine diabetes. We’ll create a custom treatment plan to manage your dog’s condition based on the results. 

Managing Diabetes in Dogs

While diabetes isn’t curable, it can be managed successfully with proper care. A high-quality diet that includes protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates coupled with consistent, moderate exercise will help control glucose levels. Insulin therapy is the most common treatment for diabetes in dogs, and your dog will likely need these injections twice daily. Your vet can show you how to administer these injections safely. 

Complications from Untreated Diabetes

Left untreated, canine diabetes can lead to several complications, the most common being cataracts. Cataracts cloud the lens inside the eye and can result in blindness if not treated. Other common complications include:

Kidney diseases. Chronic high blood sugar levels can damage your dog’s kidneys, making it difficult for them to filter out waste products and produce urine. When this happens, the kidneys cannot remove excess water in the body, which results in a buildup of fluids around the body (edema) and an increase in urination (polyuria).

Heart problems. Untreated high blood sugar levels can cause heart disease, which can lead to heart failure or arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats).

Skin problems including infections, sores, or hair loss (alopecia). High blood sugar levels make it difficult for the skin to heal normally when injured or infected. This makes dogs more susceptible to wounds that will not heal on their own and infections that may require antibiotics for treatment.

The goal of diabetes management is to:

  • Restore normal blood glucose levels
  • Prevent or control complications
  • Improve your dog’s quality of life

Life Expectancy of Diabetic Dogs

The life expectancy of diabetic dogs depends on several factors: the severity of their diabetes, how well their diabetes is controlled and managed, and whether they have other health concerns.

Dogs with mild diabetes may live as long as non-diabetic dogs. However, if your dog has advanced diabetes or another serious underlying medical condition, life expectancy may be affected. Healthy diet, exercise, and regular visits to the vet will help your dog live the longest, healthiest life possible. 

The Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital staff is here to help you ensure your dog is as healthy as possible. If you have questions or concerns about managing your dog’s health, call us today at (610) 589-5019 to learn more or to schedule an appointment